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JAMA 100 Years Ago
January 25, 2006

SCIENCE AND ART IN MEDICINE. THEIR INFLUENCE ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF MEDICAL THINKING.*

Author Affiliations
 

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2006;295(4):450. doi:10.1001/jama.295.4.450

JOHN C. HEMMETER, PH.D., M.D.

Medical men the world over frequently have to hear the criticism, I might call it the reproach, that medicine is not a pure science, that its methods and its discipline are not sufficiently accurate to merit this term. On the other hand, critics are not wanting among the non-medical public, who argue that medicine is not a perfect art.

Now, what is an art, and what is a science? In a recent address President Ira Remsen attempts to define these terms, and on the authorities there quoted by this versatile educator we might profitably start out by borrowing the interpretations of the terms science and art. One writer says: “The distinction between science and art is that science is a body of principles and deductions to explain the nature of some matter, and art is a body of precepts with practical skill for the completion of some work. Science teaches us to know, and art to do. In art, truth is a means to an end, in science it is the only end. Hence, the practical arts are not to be classed among the sciences.” Another writer says: “Science and art may be said to be investigations of truth, but one, science, inquires for the sake of knowledge, the other, art, for the sake of production. Hence, science is more concerned with the higher truths, and art with the lower. Science is never engaged, as art is, in productive application.”

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